By Mark G. McLaughlin
Not everyone who attends an auto show comes just to gawk at the shiniest new toys. According to those in charge of the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, on average two out of three attendees are there not just to look, but to buy – or at least decide what to buy when they go out the door. Most are not looking for top-of-the-line, highest-tech or fanciest cars, but for something more practical. Here are just five of the most practical options on display at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show.
2017 Chicago Auto Show
2301 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60616
Date: February 11—20, 2017
2018 Chevy Equinox Turbo Diesel- A Truly Fuel-Efficient SUV
Rated at 40 mpg, the 1.6-liter turbo-diesel Chevy Equinox offers drivers a truly fuel-efficient vehicle, and without sacrificing either power or comfort. With both front and all-wheel drive, the Equinox is also highly versatile, and like all Chevys comes with the Chevrolet Complete Care warranty and service pledge. The stop/start technology also comes standard, and the Equinox offers a sliding scale of extras in both the safety and infotainment areas. Priced at $23,500 for the standard model, it is also an especially good buy.
2017 Mazda CX-3 – Literally the CX-5’s Little Brother
Subcompacts are about as practical and affordable as cars can get, and Mazda has a history of producing some of the best and most innovative of that type of vehicle. Its CX-5 is one of the best small crossover utility vehicles of the decade, and Mazda has taken most of what is best about that and put it into a smaller version, the CX-3. Starting at just under $22,000, the new CX-3 definitely rates well in the affordability area, especially considering what a buyer gets for their money. The Sport version is $2,000 less, and the Grand Touring model is $2,000 more than the standard CX-3 Touring model. It delivers an impressive 34 mpg and with a 146-hp 2-liter engine, still has enough power to climb steep hills and take on the left lane with confidence. With advanced airbags and blind-spot monitoring, as well as side-impact door beams, this subcompact is built with not just the pocketbooks but also the safety of its passengers in mind.
2017 Subaru Impreza – The Compact Sedan for the Masses
Priced at a little over $18,000, the Subaru Impreza is meant to be a people’s car for the new millennium. The symmetrical all-wheel drive compact sedan seats five and gets 38 mpg on the road (and 27 mpg in the city). The 2-liter four-cylinder engine puts out 152 hp, and is built of high-strength steel for safety and durability. The Impreza brand has earned a lot of respect, in part because, as the company reports, 97 percent of all Imprezas sold over the last decade are still on the road. This is a little car meant to last a long time, which makes its low entry price even more of a bargain for prospective car-buyers of a more practical bent.
2017 Volvo S90 – A Most Innovative and Affordable Luxury Sedan
The Volvo S90 may be a luxury sedan, but with a price point set a tad below $47,000 it comes in well below many cars that offer less. Volvo is known for its cutting-edge technology and commitment to safety and reliability, and the S90 builds on that reputation – and then takes it up another level. The 4-cylinder front-wheel-drive sedan comes with an innovative Pilot Assist technology and 8-speed automatic transmission, and has Comfort and Dynamic as well as customizable drive settings. It has more power than most other sedans or even many SUVs, as Volvo states with confidence that it can tow about two tons. Solid, safe, reliable, yet still comfortable and powerful, the Volvo S90 also looks quite stylish – so much so that few viewers recognize it as a Volvo.
2017 Nissan Pathfinder – The Venerable Mid-Size Crossover Gets a New V6
With its new V6 engine, the venerable Nissan Pathfinder has gotten an upgrade for 2017. Even powered-up it still gets a respectable 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, and has front-wheel and all-wheel-drive, with hill climb and descent assist technology when in four-wheel drive. This seven-seater has a remote starter, fog lights and rear sonar warning system, puts out 284 hp and can tow up to three tons. The Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission aids with both fuel efficiency and ease of driving, as its gear-less technology uses a metal drive chain for a faster and smoother response. Starting at $30,290.